FEARS are growing that the batteries in the black boxes from lost Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 may finally have died, stopping the devices from giving any further clues as to their location.
Despite having no new transmissions from the black boxes’ locator beacons to go on, air and sea crews continued their search in the southern Indian Ocean for debris and any sounds that may still be emanating. They are desperately trying to pinpoint where the Boeing 777 could be amid an enormous patch of deep ocean.
An Australian ship towing a US Navy listening device has not detected any new signals since Tuesday. Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas said: “We’re now into Day 37 of this tragedy. The battery life on the beacons is supposed to last 30 days. We’re hoping it might last 40 days.
“However, it’s been four or five days since the last strong pings. What they’re hoping for is to get one more, maybe two more pings so they can do a triangulation of the sounds and try and narrow the (search) area.”
Indian Ocean search
Recovering the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders is essential for investigators to try to figure out what happened to Flight 370, which vanished on March 8. It was carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
After analysing satellite data, officials believe the plane flew off course for an unknown reason and went down in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. Investigators trying to determine what happened to the plane are focusing on four areas - hijacking, sabotage and personal or psychological problems of those on board.
Two sounds heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which was towing the ping locator, were determined to be consistent with the signals emitted from the black boxes. Two more pings were detected in the same general area Tuesday, but no new ones have been picked up since then.
‘More work to be done”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed confidence that the pings picked up by the Ocean Shield were coming from the plane’s two black boxes, but he cautioned that finding the actual aircraft could take a long time.
“There’s still a lot more work to be done and I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success, or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month. There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this,” he said yesterday in Beijing.
Searchers want to pinpoint the exact location of the source of the sounds - or as close as they can get - before sending the Bluefin 21 submersible down. It will not be deployed until officials are confident that no other electronic signals will come, and that they have narrowed the search area as much as possible.
The surface area being searched today was 22,203 square miles of ocean extending over 1,300 miles north west of Perth. Up to 12 planes and 14 ships were participating in the hunt.